WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Following the Coronavirus pandemic, we are now dealing with monkeypox and many people aren’t even sure what that is.

“Monkeypox is a pox virus similar to smallpox that you can get from direct-direct skin contact or other surfaces,” URHCS Infectious Disease Nurse Rachel Reitan said.

There have been many cases reported around the U.S. since the first confirmed case in May 2022. As of now, there has only been one confirmed case in Wichita County.

Reitan says it’s important to be mindful about what to look for.

“Symptoms can be fever, chills, body aches, but more specifically, a very painful rash that you can see in the genital area, the rectal area, or even the palms of your hands and feet. So any type of rash that you see with fever and chills should be looked at by your primary provider no matter what,” Reitan said.

Just like other diseases, there are ways to protect yourself from monkeypox.

“Protecting yourself from monkeypox is quite simple. It’s basically limiting exposure. If you know someone that has been exposed to monkeypox and is on current treatment for monkeypox, certainly don’t come in contact with them. That’ll be skin-to-skin contact and also avoid bedding, clothing, or any type of material that has been in contact with the person with monkeypox,” Reitan said.

Reitan wants to reassure the community not to panic. Monkeypox is a short-lasting virus, and there is a vaccine available, but there is a limited number in our area.

If you’ve recently had a smallpox vaccine, it also fights against the monkeypox virus for 4 years. Only people who have been exposed are encouraged to get the vaccination.

“It’s very easy to avoid if you take the right measures. If you’ve also been exposed to the monkeypox, we’d expect you to quarantine for about 21 days and we definitely recommend starting vaccine treatment within 4 days of exposure,” Reitan said.

If you have been exposed to monkeypox or have mysterious pox-like bumps, contact the health department immediately.

Click here to find the health department’s contact information.